Why would women in business want to secure respect?

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This week, I stumbled across two items that left me dumbfounded.

The first was a survey question posed by SmartBrief. One of the daily feeds I subscribe to is their NAWBO newsletter (for lack of a better term – it’s more a compilation of writing ideas and articles others have created to fill a relevant feed link summary). In Monday’s issue, they posted the survey question:

 Have you suppressed your feminine side in an effort to succeed in business?”

Are you kidding me? OK – maybe part of my consternation with this one is I’m not sure how much of a feminine side I have.

My youth was mostly about exploring the wonderful guy-stuff as a tomboy.

I caught the horse bug right about the time I could talk. Call it a disease if you wish, but it’s one that’s carried through my entire adult life. Dresses, make up and perfume tend to conflict with the reality of the horse scene (and equine sensitivities – neither my horses nor I react well to people who drown themselves in manufactured stink).

Still, as one who was getting hired by the ‘old boys network’ decades ago when women were an anomaly in the marketing industry, I’d say showing your feminine side only helps. Did that mean tolerating some behavior and attitudes from precepts learned in days gone by?  You bet! Did it undermine my principles – or change who I was – to keep clients happy? No way.

Frankly, some women in business seem to get too worked up about enforcing their definition of respect. It’s more about how comfortable you are with yourself than external factors. Anyone who wants to succeed should recognize others see the world differently. Does that make them wrong? I don’t think so. The most successful male business leaders I’ve met are open, personable, humble, approachable and quick to recognize their weaknesses (and hire people with strengths in these areas to propel the company forward). Could this be interpreted as displaying a feminine side? Perhaps – but you can bet they have the respect, loyalty and the support of everyone they interact with. Women in business who embrace a similar leadership style are equally effective.

Perhaps those who think business success requires putting on an act are in the wrong career. In fact, the opposite reality on this feminine side front is trending. Cleavage seems to be the norm in jobs that used to require conservative attire (bank tellers, TV anchors – really, is this attractive on gals pushing 50?, corporate executives {ditto}, etc.).

It’s amazing how much things change yet remain the same      

This is an incredible video morphing through acclaimed artist paintings of women over the centuries. It’s one I discovered through a post by Lisa Derby Oden.


What’s interesting is how much beauty remains the same with beauty portrayed as the typical woman until recent history (both in art and advertising).

Perhaps we’re over-thinking this whole beauty vs. authority thing. Character, integrity and personal strength is something that’s been respected in both genders for eons. Understanding and appreciating different perspectives makes for a good leader, regardless of gender or race. So does being able to appeal to a variety of personalities while recognizing the responses of others are about them, not you. Most will sense immediately, though, if you’re putting on an act – and respond with skepticism.

Of course, we all like to look at an attractive individual. Is that so wrong?

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